sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 26, 2012

into the stacks: sideways stories from wayside school
posted by soe 12:33 am

Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar

From the jacket: “Maybe you should go to Wayside School. You’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; and Sammy, the new kid — he’s a real rat. Come on! Hurry up! If you’re late for class, Mrs. Gorf will turn you into an app… Oops. Sorry about that.”

My take: An amusing collection of short anecdotes about the eclectic children in the class on the top floor of a school accidentally built vertically, rather than horizontally. Not one person who enters this classroom is normal. Not from their first teacher, Mrs. Gorf, who turns “unruly” children into apples, to her replacement, Mrs. Jewls, who does deals with problem kids in a more creative way (although she will send them home on the half-day bus if they persist in being disciplinary problems). And not from John, who can only read when the writing is wrong-side up, to Kathy, who doesn’t like anyone.

Written by Louis Sachar, the author of Holes, the Sideways Stories are definitely aimed at a younger audience than his award-winning novel. Each section — one per person — is roughly three pages long, and each one points out that the school occupants are just as skewed as the building. I was surprised that the book dates back to 1978, because it feels modern in both style and content, so I don’t think kids would think twice about reading this.

I imagine third- and fourth-grade boys who feel the teacher has it out for them might find this book particularly enjoyable. Perhaps it’s something for those kids who aren’t quite ready for the Wimpy Kid books.

I will add that while I thought the book was cute and enjoyable for what it was, it’s the first of the books I’ve read off the top 100 children’s books list from the School Library Journal that I might have omitted.

Pages: 124

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